Malaysian players settle in well in chilly Rotterdam


By S. RAMAGURU

KUALA LUMPUR: The national hockey team for the Junior World Cup Finals ran into traffic jams and had to wait for three hours before they could check into their hotel rooms when they arrived in Holland yesterday. 

But the Malaysians found the weather to be pleasant. 

The team arrived in Amsterdam in the morning and took a bus ride to Rotterdam. The journey usually takes an hour but the team had to be on the bus for an hour more before reaching the hotel (Novotel Brainpark). Then they had to wait for the room to be readied for them. 

Coach Sarjit Singh said in a telephone interview from Rotterdam that the boys had settled in and were in high spirits. 

“Our hotel is just 15 minutes away from the venue. So there is no reason to worry about the traffic jams,” he said. 

“Today we were caught in the morning rush hour and it took a little longer than usual to get to the hotel. We were here in May and did not run into any jam. So it is a bit of a surprise. 

“The situation with the rooms is normal. It was a small problem. We will be well taken care of during our stay here.” 

Sarjit added that they had arranged for an evening training session yesterday but did not get to train at the competition venue. 

“We have already drawn up our programme and the organisers have told us that the sessions that we have asked for will be available. We will have two sessions daily from June 25-28. 

“We want to have warm-up matches and will probably ask Spain and Chile, who will arrive tomorrow, to play against us.” 

The Malaysians are the first foreign team to arrive in Rotterdam for the Finals.  

“Our liaison officer told us that the weather has improved and should be good when the tournament begins,” said Sarjit. 

“It is about 19°C today and the players did not feel cold. But it can get windy and pose some problems for them. The evening training session will be crucial as it will help us to settle in.” 

The Finals begin on Wednesday and Malaysia start their campaign in Group B against South Africa (6.30pm, local time, 1.30am Thursday, Malaysian time). 

The match against Argentina the next day will also be played in the evening (5pm). Malaysia wrap up their preliminary round fixtures with a morning match against Germany (11am). 

The Finals feature 16 teams and the top three teams in each of the four-group preliminary rounds advance to a two-group second round competition. The last-placed teams go into playoffs for positions 13th-16th. 

India are the defending champions and have been drawn in Group D with Holland, Poland and Egypt. Group A has Spain, South Korea, England and Mexico. In Group C are Australia, Pakistan, Belgium and Chile. 

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